I haven't been watching nearly as much anime recently as used to be the case; a lot of it being in the form of TV shows which take much longer to watch is definitely part of the reason. Not buying directly from importers anymore also doesn't help, as I don't get much new stuff. Amazon's generally (periodically they do good sales) crappy discount on anime also doesn't help; as near as I can tell, it averages about half as much as standard fare.
But I have gotten a few newer things recently that I've found time to watch.
The first was Summer Wars, and today I watched The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
Summer Wars follows a shy but brilliant (mathematically), high-school boy who agrees to help an upperclassman (man, upperclass-woman sounds unwieldy) who is going home to visit her family. What he doesn't find out until they get to her ancestral home (and yes, the place deserves that description) is that, beyond helping her with her luggage, is that he's supposed to be a university student (at the top school in Japan) studying abroad, and engaged to Natsuki.
Things really start getting complicated when someone starts taking over the global computer network (Oz), and Kenji is blamed for it. Kenji is pretty sure he's innocent, but unable to prove it immediately.
In any event, the story whirls around his interactions with the family and what's going on in Oz. Natsuki's slightly-older, black-sheep cousin also has an important part to play, but is with the rest of the family, with Oz, or with Natsuki?
Natsuki, in fact, spends almost the entire movie as a McGuffin to put Kenji there.
So, was it good? It was excellent. The family is very complex, and mostly believable (the characters are believable; some of the stuff they have access to? Not so much). I really, really like the grandmother. She is just the epitome of wise, above-it-all matriarch. Kenji was also a good character, and the Oz environment was really neat.
I will definitely watch this one again.
And as I mentioned, I watched The Girl Who Leapt Through Time earlier today. In fact, I brought my infant son in the room when I went to watch it, and let him play on the floor. By the time it was over, my wife and daughter had joined us, and both of the kids had fallen asleep.
So where does the name come from? Makoto is on her way home from school, and finds her brakes out when going down a long hill. She hits the barrier stopping people from crossing the train tracks at the bottom, and flies over it, into the path of the train. Suddenly, she finds herself on the ground with her bike, about halfway up the hill, having run over a woman she had narrowly missed the first time around.
With a little experimentation, she figures out that she can jump backwards in time by literally jumping, and thinking of the time she wants to go to. She uses it for some incredibly trivial things which work out well for her the first few times, but later finds that things don't work out like she likes. She also sees that some other people take the pain when she tries to get out of bad situations.
Eventually, things really come to a head when some classmates are going to be killed. Can she save them? Is there a reason why she has this ability? Can she keep doing it forever? Will she ever go on a date? And who is her "Aunt Witch"?
This is a beautifully-executed story with a bit of a lesson (albeit a pretty predictable one). It's very touching.
Like most time-travel stories, it is not completely consistent, but is much closer than most.
The last question above is actually the most interesting, although I can't explain the how of the answer. I think I need to watch the whole thing again (maybe even more than once). And definitely listen more closely to the dialogue when doing so.
In the end, I highly recommend this one (and strongly recommend going for the blu-ray release of both of these, if possible. They both take good advantage).
Oh yeah. There's a bonus trailer in the latter movie for another title called The Girl Who Leapt Through Space. The Japanese titles are not nearly as close as the english ones. In fact, they're almost completely different, and the stories appear to even be done by different studios. Do not be suckered in.